Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, neurotherapy and brain training, is a subdivision of Biofeedback. Biofeedback is a method of gaining information by monitoring blood pressure, skin temperature, brain waves, heart rate and other body conditions to help promote control over normally involuntary bodily processes through conditioning, also called operant conditioning and relaxation.
Neurofeedback is a technology-based learning technique that provides real-time information about your own EEG activity. Through this type of brain training, a person can alter his or her own brainwave characteristics by challenging the brain to learn to reorganize and by conditioning the brain to function better. The EEG Biofeedback technique is a process in which subtle brainwave information is amplified and shown back to the trainee in the form of a computer game. The object of the training is to re-educate the brain to make voluntary changes via computerized graphic displays and auditory signals that encourage a change in mental state and thus challenge the brain to function more effectively.
From the raw EEG, waves are amplified and then refined into smaller parts by the means of electronic filters. Currently there are seven unique frequencies, bandwidths and specific states or characteristics with each bandwidth.
All forms of Biofeedback employ some type of computer or monitoring device along with electronic sensors to give information about what is going on in the body. When the brain is not functioning properly, evidence of this usually shows up in EEG activity. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain has the ability to repair itself, also known as neuroplasticity. In order stay physically fit, you would exercise to strengthen your muscles. Similar to this idea, Neurofeedback training helps you get mentally fit.
Unlike an MRI or CT scan that looks at the structure of the brain, neurofeedback assesses brain function through the use of non-intrusive sensors placed in various locations on the scalp. These sensors measure the electrical activity of the brain. An individual plays a specialized video game, the objective being to operate the game by controlling specific brain wave activity. Over several sessions, as the individual retrains his brain activity, he increases his skill level, thereby controlling his brain activity. This exercise strengthens the brain and the rest of the nervous system, with powerful effects on the entire body.
In both videos, the emphasis is on the brain communicating with itself and the outside world. If you think about how you taught your child or grandchild to speak, first you would present an object, such as an apple. Then you would describe the color, texture, and in this situation, the taste. The fact is that all children are born with billions of neural connections and have the ability to speak and read every language in the world. However, if they are not exposed to that language they lose those neural connections. It is the outside world interfacing with the inner world of neural connections that form specific hubs or pathways. Therefore, a child knowing by sight that a red apple may be sweet while a yellow lemon is sour is based on the formation of specific hubs for that specific object. Along with this hub are other hubs of identification by smell, taste, touch and the situations they experience with the apple, such as a joyful moment with grandma. Then, the child through additional hubs learns to express through language (speech).
When there is a brain injury the system becomes dysregulated, or in other words, the brain becomes stuck in specific brainwave patterns. Retraining the brain can improve many conditions and the various symptoms of stroke/aneurysm, brain surgery, concussion, anxiety, sleep problems, PTSD, Parkinson’s Disease, and movement disorders, such as myoclonic.
Neurofeedback is able to assess brain function and indicate areas where it is not functioning properly, often in the case after a stroke. It can also locate neural dysregulation of the various neural hubs, as seen in a concussion and PTSD. Neurofeedback looks for the cause, such as what specific pathways are dysregulated or over or under activated. Once this type of assessment locates the cause of the symptom, then a wide variety of methods and equipment can be chosen based on what is the best one specifically for your needs and neurological issues.
“My son, Noah, started doing neurofeedback with Dr Diane about a year ago after his pediatrician wanted to put him on medication to help him focus better at school. At that time Noah was disorganized, had trouble staying focused for more than a few minutes, and had difficulty processing information at times. This affected his school work, his family and even his social life. As a parent I wanted to do everything I could before going the medication route. So we did Neurofeedback. It has changed his life. He is now focusing much better at school, he is able to do school work now that was difficult before, and he doesn’t have anymore tantrums which he had before. His teachers have seen a big improvement in him. Neurofeedback has truly made a big difference in our lives.” – Kim K., Essex County, MA
THERE IS CLINICAL EVIDENCE AND/OR CLINICAL REPORTS ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF NEUROFEEDBACK FOR THE FOLLOWING DISORDERS SEEN IN CHILDREN AND TEENS, AS WELL AS ADULTS.
The brain’s ability to change, heal and become regulated again is extremely effective in terms of concussion, memory problems, sleep problems, ADHD and PTSD, where the cause is often related to dysregulation of a system of hubs or neural connections and dysregulation of various electrical frequency, rather than injury to a specific location or hub.
The goal of neurofeedback is to return the brain to its optimal level. Once an assessment or evaluation has been done, you can use a wide variety of neurofeedback methods to fix a specific area, and/or dysregulation or just fine tune your brain for peak performance.
Traditional Neurofeedback: This is based on operant condition and help retrain the brainwave to optimal level. Methods include Othmer’s low frequency; Paul Swingle Method; Kurt Thornton Gamma Coherence, Nancy White’s alpha/theta training and Robert Thatcher Zscore training.
LENS (Low Energy Neurofeedback System): This system developed by Len Ochs is based on restructuring the stuck patterns in the brain and to promote a balance flexible state.
NeuroField: This system allows the body to engage its own restorative systems so as to return to a balanced, homeostasis state. Specific amplitude and frequency changes can be measured for the purpose of guiding the brain so that it can function more effectively. NeuroField was designed to strengthen the body and promote healthy, balanced states.
pRoshi (Personal Roshi): This is a light machine used to disrupt inefficient patterns in the brain. The lights flash at a constantly varying speed, helping the brain to “get out of the rut” of current dysfunctional patterns. Infrared light as a healing modality. The infrared light is used to calm the nervous system, reduce spasm and spasticity, relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
HEG (Hemoencephalography): This measures the blood flow in the brain and gives feedback to encourage blood flow to the targeted regions. This was specifically designed for helping with migraine headaches and depression.
HRV (Heart Rate Variability): This measures the heart to brain communication to help regulate and bring balance to the autonomic nervous system and limbic system.
BAUD (Bio-Acoustical Utilization Device): BAUD is device that creates sonic waves that coincide with brain frequencies measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG). By integrating the BAUD as a stimulant with other therapies, such as Neurotherapy or music therapy, the individual can better grasp the significance of regulating their brain waves as well as other psychophysiological dimensions, such as relaxation and indices of mood.
CES (Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation): This system produces tiny “microcurrents” which are thought to stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for neurotransmitter and hormone production. Thus, this method is another use to bring regulation to the brain.
AVS (Audio/Visual Stimulation): Through light and sound in coordination together, this machine is used to bring balance and regulation to the brain.
All of these methods used as part of the neurofeedback integrative approach deal with promoting regulation and balancing of the brain/body system. Neurofeedback specifically deals with frequency regulation and balancing. Neurofeedback, in combination with the various modalities, bring about a synergetic effect for healing and recovery of the brain.
The alpha/theta protocol is used to allow the brain to produce restorative sleep and brain regulations. Proper nutrition is an essential component to recovery. There are specific foods and vitamins that allow the brain to heal, while others can do harm. Finding the proper balance is extremely important. Once this foundation is in place, then locating the area of damage along with areas of strength. If the brain is stuck in a specific pattern then to use methods such as CES, LENS or pRoshi are very useful.
Using cutting-edge computerized biofeedback equipment and capitalizing on recent scientific research that illustrates the profound plasticity of the brain, Dr. Diane® works with individuals to utilize their brain frequencies to maximum effectiveness.
To schedule an appointment for an in-person, phone or Skype consult with Dr. Diane®, please call us at 800-500-9971 or submit a contact form.
Audrey had three major injuries starting her junior year of high school. She was told she would never graduate high school. Audrey graduated both high school and college with honors. You can read more in Case Studies of Applied Psychophysiology: Neurofeedback and Biofeedback Treatments for Advances in Human Performance.
Thank you for my college graduation gift, it really does remind me how far I have come and I could not have done it without your help and support. I will keep your beautiful gift on my desk for years to come and I know I will continue to succeed in life!. Take care and I really do appreciate everything you have done for me.
Audrey R., Essex County, MA
Words can’t describe how grateful I am that I met you. I remember the day I met you. You had been seeing my mother for almost a year for her myoclonic jerking and pain and I went in to meet you and learn all the wonderful things you had done to help my mother. You made a world of difference in her life, and by helping her you helped me before I even met you. You gave me my mom back who for years was in pain, and had gotten to the point where she could no longer drive. However, after she met you I saw a change in her. Her pain level went down, and her jerking stopped. I can finally say I have seen my mother smile again. Not to mention, you were the first therapist to ever help mend my relationship with her. There were years of pain between us, and somehow you were finally able to open the waves of communication again between her and I. Not only had you done a wonderful job helping my mother, but then you helped me. In May I went to see you, for my panic attack disorder that had gotten so bad I had to take an emergency medical leave from school. I was having panic attacks two to three times a week often passing out each time because I would hyperventilate so badly. I felt like I had lost hope in getting better. My panic attacks which I had been having since the ninth grade (I am now a senior in college) was an uphill battle for me, and it felt like every year it was getting worse. I currently have only been seeing you since May and it is now August but I have already noticed a world of difference. I have not had a panic attack in two months. I signed up for fall classes and now I can go back to school without having to worry if I am going to have another attack. Between the therapy, the biofeedback, and the Bach flowers I finally have my life back. I honestly believe you are truly a gift from God, and one of the most wonderful people that have ever walked this earth. You have finally given me hope again and brought a new meaning to the tattoo on my back which reads “always have hope”. I have seen many doctors in my lifetime, and I can honestly say I have never met one as wonderful as you. I can see in your eyes how much you care about every client who walks through your door. You are the first doctor that I have ever seen make a call to another doctor right then and there. There is virtually no waiting, and you always keep your promises. I know no one in this world is perfect, but you are damn near close. You are a true inspiration in my life, and inspire me when it comes to my social work career. You are everything I hope to be in a healthcare provider. Also, as a side note, you have some of the most awesome people working for you. Every time I call your answering service they are always so nice and polite and always call back. As for Paul your assistant in biofeedback he is a true gem. He is one of the nicest, most caring people I have ever met. He’s intelligent and witty, and has the best sense of humor. He’s an incredible person and I feel blessed to have met him. All in all, thank you and as my mother said God bless you.
-Kristin N., Essex County, MA